FCB Bids Farewell to 4 Clients in One Week

New YORK—Foote, Cone & Belding last week split with at least four clients whose combined spending topped $50 million in billings. Three different FCB offices were affected by the client moves.

With three weeks left in its contract with AT&T Business and the chance for renewal unlikely, FCB in New York parted with the last piece of business it handled for the communications giant last Thursday.

In parting with the account, FCB said it “resigned” the business to be freed up to pursue other telecom business. “It’s too small an account in too large a category for people here who have so much experience in the category,” said Jeff Tarakajian, president of FCB in New York.

While the AT&T Business account was said to be worth $100 million when FCB won it last year, sources predicted billings would shrink to $20-40 million in 2002. The shop has been steadily losing a grip on AT&T.

In October, FCB lost the remainder of its AT&T consumer business (worth about $35 million) to Young & Rubicam. Earlier this year, FCB lost the defense of the $400 million AT&T Wireless account to Ogilvy & Mather in New York.

Also at FCB in New York, Optimum Online left after the agency and client couldn’t agree on fees for the account, a source said. The Cable vision unit spent $3 million on media last year, according to CMR.

And in Chicago, FCB parted with its Sara Lee Bakery and Deli account, with billings estimated at $10 million, due to the relocation of the bakery unit to St. Louis and the deli unit to Cincinnati, both from Chicago.

In San Francisco, FCB said it split with $20 million client Major League Baseball. While one source said FCB was fired, the agency said it disagreed with the client on marketing strategies.

The future of FCB’s 12-person field office in Dallas remains uncertain following the loss of its only client earlier this month: the Houston Taco Bell Advertising Association, a co-op representing 96 area restaurants.